Big Sky Conference

Eastern Washington consensus preseason Big Sky favorite

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Eight teams received at least one first-place vote in the Big Sky Conference preseason media poll released Monday morning, hinting towards a wide-open 2018 season.

Eastern Washington, which finished third in the league in 2017, led both the media and the coaches’ polls, picking up 27 first-place votes from the media and also getting the nod from six of the league’s 13 coaches.

Montana finished fourth in the media poll and seventh in the coaches’ poll. Montana State was tipped to finish eighth by both groups.

But the depth of the conference was the story.

Weber State head coach Jay Hill and Weber State will chase a second straight Big Sky Conference title / by Brooks Nuanez

Eastern Washington, Weber State, Northern Arizona, Montana, Idaho, Southern Utah, Montana State and UC Davis each were picked to win the conference by at least one person on the 55-member media voting panel.

“It’s fun and stressful at the same time,” NAU head coach Jerome Souers said. “You always want to compete against good teams. … This could be the toughest schedule we’ve had in some time. It makes for a great conference, it really does.”

Eastern Washington, led by All-American quarterback Gage Gubrud, who also made the preseason all-conference team, will be the favorites.

The Eagles were followed in both polls by last year’s co-champion Weber State in second and Northern Arizona in third.

The Wildcats and Lumberjacks each received three first-place votes in the coaches’ poll. Idaho, which returns to the Big Sky this year after dropping down from the FBS, received the other first-place vote from the coaches and finished fourth in that poll.

Sacramento State junior defensive end George Obinna/ by Jason Bacaj

Sacramento State trailed the Vandals, finishing fifth in the coaches’ poll, and was followed by Southern Utah, the other co-champion from 2017, and the two Montana teams.

UC Davis, Cal Poly, Northern Colorado, Idaho State and Portland State rounded out the coaches’ poll.

In the media poll, fourth-place Montana was followed by long-time rival Idaho in fifth. Both teams received multiple first-place votes.

The Vandals were followed by Southern Utah, which finished sixth in both polls despite winning the conference two of the last three years.

Sacramento State finished seventh but was the only team in the top nine not to get a first-place vote from the media — the Hornets were trailed by Montana State and UC Davis, each of whom did receive a first-place vote.

Cal Poly, Northern Colorado and Portland State were the last three teams in the media poll.

Photos by Brooks Nuanez. All Rights Reserved.

About Andrew Houghton

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